MI6 got together with the underwater stunt coordinator
of “Tomorrow Never Dies” Lee Sheward
earlier this week for a chat about his work on "The
World Is Not Enough" and his views on the stunt industry...
Lee Sheward Interview - Part 4
28th October 2003
MI6 got together with the underwater stunt coordinator of “Tomorrow
Never Dies” Lee Sheward earlier this week for a chat. He
also performed as a stuntman in “The World Not Enough”.
In this final installment of a four-part interview we chat
about his work on "TWINE", his favourite memories, and his views
on CGI in the stunt business...
Playing A Goon
What stunts did you work on in "The World Is Not Enough"?
On “The World is Not Enough” we started off on a
sequence where Bond is in a missile silo and we were cast as
the goons stealing the nuclear missile and Bond arrives and there’s
a chase through the catacombs. The door starts shutting and Bond
is trapped on the wrong side with the baddies and as Bond runs
down there’s a big machines gun fight with the three of
Robbie’s goons. Paul Heasman got shot early on and Andy
Bennett got shot down the corridor and I got right to the end
and I’m the guy trying to get into the lift and Bond shoots
me. As the lift goes up Bond sees the bomb is ticking and has
three seconds to get out and then there’s this huge fireball.
From start to finish we played the parts right through and
then we were the safety guys for when the fireball goes down
In total that took about 5 weeks to shoot that and also we
were involved with the boat chase. The boat chase was along
the opening sequence crashing through fish markets and restaurant
and god knows where we were, the people milling around in the
restaurants and streets as this boat went hurtling through.
CGI & Stunts
How do you feel about the advances computer imagery is making
cinema? Do you feel the days of the stunt man are numbered, or
there always be a need to have a man in the midst of the action
No I don’t feel the days of stuntmen are numbered. I think
the stuntmen of today are a different breed of the guys before
us. Out forbearers were much more physical than we are. As in...
lot more risks were taken. I think today’s guys are a lot
more technically advanced than the guys we followed. I think
the advance in CGI can be a good thing but not always.
getting bigger and bigger more complicated and advanced if you've
got computers that can aid that it’s a good thing.
When we shot “Titanic” we were the guys who did the
30ft fall from the ship or whatever it was. Then as soon as we
got beyond that fall an extra 200ft was added obviously that
is an impossible thing for a human to do - basically then the
computers took over but it gave the desired effect. So I don’t
think were going to be killed off by computers quite yet. Also
are watching films now, and they know the difference between
what has been done by computers and what has not. And I can see
not completely full circle, but it’s going to come back
on itself and people are going to want to see the real thing.
My children reorganize it and people to follow will know what
is a real guy taking a fall what is a real car jumping a ravine
or what is a digitally enhanced picture been tweaked up in a
computer. You have to go with them - you can’t fight them.
Do you think underwater shoots will continue or do you thing
computer graphics will take over?
Underwater shoots will always
carry on I think, some of the things you can shoot underwater
are beautiful. You only have to go to
go back “The Spy Who Loved Me” with the Lotus underwater.
How could you shoot that digitally; it would cost a fortune and
wouldn’t be real. We’ll always carry on doing underwater
shoots. As I said earlier you just got to be careful with underwater
shoots because being underwater slows everything down you have
to be careful to keep the tension and drama.
If you’re not careful because you are in a dense medium
and you can’t move about quickly it can look boring.
To shoot in computer is extremely difficult. We shot a thing
called “Daylight” a
few years ago with Sylvester Stallone, stuck in the mud under
the water and the pressure sucks all the water up and releases
him. But it was shot dry and added all the water was optical,
but it just didn’t look right. It would have been so much
better to flood the set and have it underwater but they went
for the high tech version. But I think underwater shoots will
carry on, it’s just what degree you want to do them at.
What has been you favourite film you have worked?
There’s not one particular
film out of the about 80 features I’ve worked on that stands
out above the rest. I love what I do and am extremely lucky to
do for a living, but have worked bloody hard to do what I’m
doing. I’ve wanted to be a stuntman since I was 7 years
old, so everyday
I go to work with a big grin on my face.
I’m not saying that every day of the work is very pleasant
but there's not one particular film that sticks out from the
Bond films, “Mission Impossible”, “Titanic”, “Interview
with a Vampire”, any of the movies if see my CV. You sit
around in very expensive cars screaming around on a film set
and they’re paying you to do it. So were very lucky to
do what we do, but I’ve worked very hard to get where I
What has been you favourite stunt you have performed?
There are a few really. I did one about 10 years ago, I did
a car turn over at the old Wembley Stadium (UK) where we used
a pipe ramp (which is a steel tube ramp to turn cars
over) that turned over at 70 mph. I’m not in the game for
records but that was exceptionally fast. There are not
many people in the country that have done anything that quick,
done a couple now. So those spring to mind.
Being thrown back through a plate glass window in “Mission
Impossible” was very exciting, we had to test 50 or 60
times with a polystyrene window to get the measurement correct.
That had already been built so we couldn’t have developed
the stunt with the set bring built - it was the set that was
built - that’s
what you've got. So we had to test off location them come in
and measure it exactly right, and if anything had gone slightly
wrong I would have been more than just... that’s probably
one of the closest things I’ve done where if it did go
wrong you were going to get killed. So it worked absolutely perfectly.
There were a couple, “Interview with a Vampire”,
flying around on wires on fire. Going back to the underwater
unit in “Tomorrow Never Dies”, I’m very proud
of that sequence. Even now it still sits in my CV when people
say have you done underwater, I say well I did the whole of
the Bond underwater unit, we had a lot of fun on that show.
I was asked to work on “GoldenEye” and asked to
work on the tank chase in Russia, but had already signed a contract
to do “Mission Impossible” so while the boys were
doing “GoldenEye” we were in Prague doing “MI:1”,
so I missed out on that but then I did the next two Bonds.
I was approached about coordinating main unit on “Die
Another Day”, but that never came to anything. I've seen
the Bond films hundreds and hundreds of times.
You don’t see that much of the “Die
Another Day” ice chase in the final film, but I’ve
seen the whole uncut chase, which knocks the spots of what is
Many thanks to Lee Sheward.
Name: Lee Sheward
"Tomorrow Never Dies" - Underwater Stunt Coordinator
"The World Is Not Enough" - Stuntman
Sheward Interview (1)
Sheward Interview (2)
Sheward Interview (3)
MI6 "Tomorrow Never
Dies " Coverage